Racing to 31: 31 racing game greats #25 Super Cars II (1991)

It’s that time of year again and I find myself racing toward another birthday and to the ripe-old age of 31. In celebration I thought why the hell not have a racing themed countdown – so here we are, counting down 31 racing games that have defined my enjoyment of the genre over the last 31 years.  Enjoy!

SCIISuper Cars II is a beautiful game, and like Magnetic Fields’ other and more well-known game -Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge – there is a certain style that makes it almost timeless.  Whether it is the relatively muted palette or the clever use of shading to give the game a sense of depth,  the game’s relatively simplistic aesthetic has an air of class about it.

Of course on the track it’s all mines and homing missiles.  But it does it with class.

Super Cars II is (yet another) top down racer, but one that had depth, juxtaposing the arcade style racing of many of its contemporaries with the sort of career elements you’d find in some modern racers.  Sure you’ll be flying around the track, firing off missiles at your opponents by day, but come the end of the race you’ll be grilled by the press, taking driving tests or answering to the lawyer of your wealthy uncle in the hopes of getting that cash injection to hot-up your car with new weapons or performance boost.

Little or not, though, Super Cars II’s design philosophy was the first step in the direction toward the path Codemasters forged back with its TOCA: Race Driver series (known as V8 Supercars: Race Driver in Australia), one that saw a shift toward a more personal experience,  putting you in the shoes of the driver, and giving you a something to care about beyond the cars.  When you break it down, it’s really nothing more than a few bells and whistles rather than anything particularly deep, but as a device to give the player greater agency in the game, it was simply brilliant.  And Super Cars II was on the front line of that shift in a game design sentiment that has been increasingly pervasive across the genre.

While at its heart it was really just a very polished and incredibly playable arcade racing game, it was the little things, the small steps forward in how racing games were designed, that made Super Cars II such an important game in the racing game history.  And a classy one, at that.

Have fond memories of Super Cars II? Do you know what the pressure of most car tyres should be?  Tell me in the comments, and be sure to check out earlier games in the countdown below!

#31: Stunt Car Racer   #30: Badlands   #29: RVF Honda  #28: Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge  #27: Nitro  #26: Super Grand Prix  #25 Super Cars II  #24 Super RC Pro-Am #23 Sega Rally  #22 Wipeout 2097  #21 Micro Machines V3  #20 Gran Turismo #19 Need For Speed: High Stakes  #18 Colin McRae Rally 2.0  #17 Wave Race: Blue Storm #16 Grand Prix Challenge  #15 Project Gotham Racing 2  #14 F-Zero GX  #13 Mashed #12 Burnout 3: Takedown  #11 Ridge Racer  #10 Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast #9 Forza Motorsport 2  #8 Motorstorm: Pacific Rift  #7 Midnight Club: Los Angeles  #6 Dirt 2  #5 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit  #4 Shift 2: Unleashed  #3 Sonic All-Star Racing: Transformed  #2 Forza Horizon  #1 F1 2013: Classic Edition